At day 2 of the Web4Dev conference, Kazi Islam, CEO of Grameen Solutions, spoke about Innovations for the poor: Challenges OR opportunities. He described a number of projects and companies within the Grameen family.
He spoke about how when Dr Muhammad Yunus decided to create a bank for the poor, he simply did what the regular banks did not do.
Regular bank: aimed at richer people; his bank: aimed at the poor.
Regular bank: needs collateral; his bank would be based on trust.
Regular bank: mostly male clients; he would cater to woman.
He has since won a Nobel peace prize based on the success of Grameen Bank.
A key point that Kazi wanted to make was that our solutions need to challenge the status quo and be about people. It’s very important to “get down and dirty” and understand the needs of the people you want to reach. “Go and live with the poor,” he suggested, and develop solutions that work for them and their real needs.
Grameen Solutions is a for-profit company. Kazi assured us that there is nothing wrong with making a profit, in fact it is essential for sustainability.